Flacco is the right kind of cool

Posted: February 10, 2013

The most telling picture of Joe Flacco during the Super Bowl wasn't when he was throwing those three touchdown passes or celebrating the Baltimore Ravens' victory or accepting his Most Valuable Player award.

It was when the television cameras cut to him as the San Francisco 49ers drove to the verge of taking the lead in the final two minutes of the biggest game of his life.

Twice, Flacco was shown on the Ravens' bench.

Twice, he looked as if he was sitting in his car (not yet a cherry-red corvette) at an intersection, waiting for the light to change.

It's one thing to act cool.

Flacco is cool.

And hopefully, he has made cool cool again.

Maybe that's just the wishful thinking of an older guy who laments the gradual extinction of sports stars with a little reserve, with a Western hero's laconic restraint, with an astronaut's aplomb.

Those are tough to find in today's Kardashian Kulture, where private lives are played out in public and nearly all people with a Facebook page and Twitter account feel compelled to let their "friends" know how their second grader is doing in math, how they slept last night, and how they are feeling today.

Sports careened off the rails when ESPN gave LeBron James a prime-time hour to tell the world he was taking his "talents to South Beach" - a significant but pretty standard transaction that somehow merged the worst of AAU basketball and TMZ journalism.

And any highlight package of the last two NFL seasons would showcase end-zone celebrations such as Tim Tebow's look-at-me genuflect - a phenomenon so popular and polarizing it became known as "Tebowing" - and Colin Kaepernick's increasingly passionate smooching of his tattooed right bicep.

And those guys are quarterbacks.

Some of us still prefer quarterbacks like Joe Namath, whose grandest gesture after Super Bowl III was to raise his right index finger in the air on his way to the locker room, and Joe Montana, whose most famous Super Bowl throw came at the end of a drive that began with a comment to tackle Harris Barton in the huddle during a television timeout: "Hey, H, check it out. It's John Candy [in the stands]."

I had visions of Flacco saying the same sort of thing to Dennis Pitta if the 49ers had taken the lead on their last drive: "Hey, D, check it out. It's Charlie Sheen."

And then leading the Ravens 74 yards down the field, passing for the winning score, and somehow resisting the urge to imitate Ray Lewis' squirrel dance.

Steve Flacco, Joe's dad, was quoted before the Super Bowl as saying that his oldest son, the pride of Audubon and South Jersey football, was "dull."

There's nothing wrong with that. In an age of overacting and overreacting, Flacco gets extra credit for his low-key approach.

Plus, the laid-back guy from the leafy, little baseball town that doesn't even have a youth football program is the MVP of the Super Bowl.

How cool is that?


Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports

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